Here is my NHL awards ballot, blemishes and all, that was sent to Ernst & Young -- I am told this is an accounting firm, not a couple of healthy scratches from the Wild lineup -- for compilation. The voting process is agony for me because the results announced in late June represent more than a night of trophies and tuxedos for NHL players. The awards are about their legacies.
A Hart, a Norris, a first-team all-star selection and even a Lady Byng will go on what high school principals used to, and maybe still call, your permanent record. Maybe winning the 2010 Selke puts a player over the top when the Hockey Hall of Fame selection committee mulls his candidacy in a decade or so. You never know.
So this is one man's vote, with an explanatory note at the end of each category.
The NHL's MVP usually is apparent, at least to me. Not this year. There were three candidates I really couldn't separate -- and even now I'm not sure that I nailed this. Sedin was exceptional, especially in his brother Daniel's early-season absence. And Crosby, who scored 51 goals, continues to amaze and delight. I never thought I'd see him have more goals but fewer assists than Ovechkin, but there you go. The strict constructionists have a strong case that Crosby and both goalies were more valuable to their team than Ovechkin -- this is the definition of the award -- but then a goaltender might win every year. (In an exercise in group overthink in 2002,
Green had the best numbers, offensively and plus-minus. But despite Washington coach
This one is a snap for me. And it has been for years even though my fellow hockey writers never see it this way. I will be gobsmacked if St. Louis (94 points, 12 PIMs) doesn't win. St. Louis, of course, is a gifted winger. But Lidstrom plays on the top Wings defense pair, mucking it up against all the best forwards in the league. He averaged 25:25 per game. Still, he took only 12 minor penalties all season. Given the nature of his role, he should have been winning this award annually since the early years of the Bush administration.
The award was designed to honor forwards like